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ECHIUM vulgare

Image of Echium vulgare

Jesse Saylor

Family

Boraginaceae

Botanical Name

ECHIUM vulgare

Plant Common Name

Common Viper's Bugloss

General Description

Native to Europe and western Asia and a common roadside weed over much of the United States, this bristly biennial is grown for its tall summer-long spikes of azure flowers.

First-year seedlings of this hardy biennial form broad rosettes of large, rough, lance-shaped leaves. The following growing season, long steeple-like clusters of small funnel-shaped blooms are borne on stout upright stems that continue to appear from late spring to late summer. Flowers are typically pink aging to blue, but lavender-, pink-, and white-flowered cultivars are available, as are dwarf forms such as 'Blue Bedder'. Plants usually self-sow abundantly if not deadheaded.

This bee, butterfly, and hummingbird magnet thrives in full sun and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Sow seed in fall for spring to summer bloom next year. Some cultivars bloom their first year if sown in early spring. Deadhead to prolong bloom and to prevent self-sowing. The bristly leaves and stems may cause skin irritation. Viper's bugloss works well in bedding schemes, mixed borders, and meadow plantings. This prolific self-sower is listed as a noxious weed in Australia, New Zealand, and portions of the United States and Canada.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Biennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Width

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Europe, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Blue, Pink, Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes